Controversial "half-diamond’ ready for traffic | VailDaily.com

Controversial "half-diamond’ ready for traffic

Christine Ina Casillas

NWS EV Exit Open BH 12-6

For nearly two years, residents and and business owners alike have waited for the construction along U.S. Highway 6 in Eagle-Vail to be finished.

They eagerly waited for the “half-diamond’ interchange to be completed and many business owners say they lost customers because of the construction and traffic that went with it. The waiting should come to an end Monday.

The half-diamond interchange is expected to be open about mid-morning Monday, said Keith Powers, resident engineer for the Colorado Department of Transportation.

“The contractor was on time,” Powers said, “We’re actually on time, but we had a little bit of extra time and extra work on it.”

The completion date for the half-diamond was Dec. 9, but there were problems with the stop lights and the guardrails that stopped transportation officials from opening the interchange, Powers said.

Construction crews are finishing the grinding on the road and the traffic signals are being tested for about five days before the transportation department will open the road to the public, Powers said.

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“We completed all the promises we told people and then some,” Powers said. “We want to make sure we have it all right before opening it.”

The stop lights will be on “flash mode” for the next few days to make sure they are working correctly, Powers said. And people might notice a camera at the top of the stop lights, perhaps mistaking it for a video camera.

“It’s actually a sensory camera,” Powers said. “We’re not taking pictures of anybody. It’s to regulate the traffic signal.”

The camera detects the presence of cars and the number of cars at the stop signal, he said.

Before, the traffic signals detected cars by loops and wires in the road, which sent an electric impulse indicating cars were at the light, Powers said. But camera technology has improved over the years, and “the cameras are smart enough now to know the different cars and can change the lights,” Powers said.

But, Powers said, transportation officials warn drivers to be careful, drive slowly and safely.

“It’s like any opening of any new road,” Powers said. “People should slow down until they get used to the interchange and be wary because the signal lights will be working, and there will be some tweaking that goes along with it.”

Christine Ina Casillas can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 607 or at ccasillas@vaildaily.com.